Despite the remoteness and small size, there are four asteroids in the frame at once
The US Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the latest news about the Lucy spacecraft. The probe took the first pictures of its targets, finding four Jupiter Trojan asteroids.
Images of the asteroids, some of which are still 530 million kilometers away from the spacecraft, were taken by Lucy between March 25 and 27, 2023. The probe was able to identify and photograph four of its eight targets: the asteroids Eurybates, Polymela, Leucus and Orus. The pictures were taken with the highest resolution L’LORRI camera.
The Lucy probe was launched on October 16, 2021 as part of a 12-year mission to study Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids. This is a large group of asteroids, gravitationally bound to the largest planet in the solar system, which revolve around the Sun along with Jupiter.
Lucy will first make two passes around the Earth, performing gravitational flybys, which will put on a trajectory to reach six Trojan asteroids, whose visits are expected from 2027 to 2028. After that, the probe will return to Earth around 2030 for a third gravitational boost before heading for a pair of giant asteroids known as Patroclus-Menoetius and reaching them around 2033.